“You had me at doughnut.” Well, duh. Thanks to someone’s post on Facebook, today I saw a video about a one of Whidbey Island’s boutique doughnut experiences. This ain’t Dunkin, people. One couple has launched a YouTube channel where they tour and review doughnut shops around the country (world?). This time, they profiled Whidbey Doughnuts, a doughnut shop/diner that I frequent for breakfast. Both the shop and the channel remind me that sometimes a simple idea can reach far, especially when supporting others with similar approaches.
Let us not trivialize either endeavour. Opening a doughnut shop sounds simpler than running a steak house, but ask any commercial baker about their hours, or drive past Whidbey Doughnuts when the Open sign is off, but the lights are on in the kitchen. Launching a YouTube channel can be much simpler, but deciding to do so where travel is required can be intimidating and expensive.
And yet. Doughnuts are a simple idea, and a great culinary start. YouTube channels cost little to launch, and can lead to greater careers.
Insert your favorite doughnut photo here. Whidbey Doughnuts are impressive, but I go there to eat, not take photos – and I order eggs, bacon, and potatoes. They have gluten-free doughnuts (Yay!), but the rest of breakfast is already decadent enough for me.
Many of my friends impress me. Take a simple idea and do something with it besides talking about it. The world is driven by unintended consequences, so don’t depend too much on plan after plan after plan. But plan. At least a plan gives you a direction.
Whidbey Island seems to be a haven for entrepreneurs, artists, and similarly creative people. An entire market of localvores work from the ideas they’ve had for produce, meat, wine, spirits, beer, whatever. Artists have their art reach out far beyond the borders, the moat that is the water that defines the island.
A friend and I are blending a few of these concepts into a blog and podcast, WritingOnWhidbeyIsland.com (aka WOWI, an acronym that many writers cringe at, but that we’ve decided to embrace.). Two guys, a microphone or two, a nomadic selection of recording sites, and a scrolling list of writers, booksellers, publishers, illustrators, editors, whoever is a part of the Whidbey Island writing community that’s willing to be recorded as if live (because Don and I are both so busy that we barely have time to organize, record, clip to length, and post the podcast to the blog. (We’ll work to a regular podcasting site when we find the time and money.)
Why do something as simple as that? Mega-corporations can launch massive marketing compaigns with focus groups and outreach efforts. We can manage to free up about an hour a week to put some energy behind something we both care about: the the writing community on Whidbey Island.
Look around the surprising businesses. Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Starbucks, Pixar, all started with simple ideas that were laughed at, though decades later the laughter of those echoes is hard to remember. (All of which I invested in, too. Details in my book, Dream. Invest. Live. which is the basis of this blog.)
Look around at some of the YouTube stars. Whidbey Island’s, Amy Walker’s engaging videos for accents and actors, with her now 154K subscribers. Hannah Hart, who became popular by videoing herself cooking while drinking, while not excelling at either; but who built a massive business based on one video of a grilled cheese sandwich, where she forgot the cheese. Hank and John Green, who started a channel by sending each other video chats every week, that pulled in millions of viewers and launched dozens of entertaining and educational channels. One stellar example is an Australian who says nothing, but silently engineers the essentials of a simple lifestyle from the materials on his property.
Writers can launch careers from single books. Musicians can do so from a song. Inventors can build wealth from an invention.
There is no guarantee of success. If there was, at least one of my books, videos, photos, or performances would’ve already helped me re-retire. And yet, that may only be a day away.
Most of these ideas weren’t instant successes. Creative products frequently are born, then languish as their creator’s enthusiasm fades, only to be re-invigorated when found by some trendsetter, or definite unmet need. The 10,000 Hour Rule is similar. Sometimes it takes time for something to become recognized as valuable.
That’s the opportunity creative people can create for themselves. It is one reason I am a fan of entrepreneurship for people who are trying to improve their personal finances. If there’s nothing else to do, and not much to do it with, play until you find something you can make from nothing. Words are cheap. Almost everyone has a phone that exceeds my first digital camera. Artists frequently work from found objects.
The opportunity can also be tied to a necessity. Regardless of the economic data, the person without a job or who hasn’t been able to find one doesn’t care if they’re part of 3%, 6%, or 12% of the population. Out of a job is out of a job.
The folks driving around eating doughnuts probably have friends and family who scoff. So what? They’re producing. Just like so many of my creative friends, creating creates hope and possibilities. No guarantees, but that goes both ways. There’s no guarantee of success, but there’s no guarantee of failure – unless there’s attempt.
Now, about the folks who are following my tweets about tea… (see #TomTea on Twitter). Something there to expand?